Globally, more than 1billion people are living witha disability, yet just one in 10 people has access to assistive technology, according to the World Health Organization.
Overthe years, Microsoft has been building inclusioninto its products and services. And to help everyone get the most from accessibility resources, the company hasthe Disability Answer Desk, or DAD.It is free,24/7 technical support from Microsoft experts trainedinassistive technologies.
'Our goal is to make the Disability Answer Desk a best-in-class support team for customers with disabilities and to use feedback to drive greater accessibility across our engineering teams,' says Sean Marihugh, an accessibility escalation engineer at Microsoft.
Technology has the power to strengthen opportunities for everyone, but it must be intuitive to have an impact. DADgivescustomers the technical support they need while gathering critical feedback to improve the assistive features in products.
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Each year, DAD experts field about 150,000 inquiries, assisting customers with products such asOffice 365, Xbox, Windows and Skype, as well as third-party assistive technologies, such as screen readers, screen magnifiers,and speech recognition software.
Microsoft hasalsoestablished an Enterprise Disability Answer Desk, or eDAD,that supports enterprise customers. Available globally as a free service in English, eDAD also reports customer feedback to specific product teams so they can quickly resolve issues.
'With eDAD, we have the potential to empower people with disabilities to achieve more at work and school-and enable organizations to provide more accessible experiences to their employees and customers,' says Crystal Jones,also an accessibility escalation engineer at Microsoft.
Since introducing DAD in 2012, Microsoft has extended the service to customers in 11 English-speaking countries: the US, UK, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Australia,and India. The service has been rolled out to French-and Spanish-speaking countries,including France, Belgium, Canada, Mexico,and Spain.
Over the years, Microsoft has gradually expanded the channels foraccessingthe service. DAD is available through 24/7 chat service and on Twitter by sending a direct message to@MSFTEnable.
DAD also has American Sign Language support throughvideophone. People who are blind or have low vision can use Be My Eyes, a free app that connects customers through live video calls.
DAD is among a growing number of efforts by Microsoft to empower people with disabilitiesand create a more inclusive work environment.
For more on these innovations and accessibility initiatives at Microsoft,visitmicrosoft.com/en-us/accessibility. And follow @MSFTIssueson Twitter.